Paddler Feng given scare by 53-year-old opponent
She is the women's world No. 4 and is seeded second here at the 2016 Olympic Games, and Singapore table tennis star Feng Tianwei got her first taste of action at the RioCentro Pavilion yesterday when she met Luxembourg's Ni Xia Lian.
There was a gap of 24 years between the two players and, in the end, 29-year-old Feng's class told as she advanced to the fourth round after a 4-2 (8-11, 5-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-4, 11-5) victory.
It didn't start off smoothly for the three-time Olympic medallist, though, as Ni took advantage of the rustiness of Feng to collect the fist two games.
Staying calm and sufficiently warmed up to the conditions, the singles bronze medallist from the 2012 Games prevailed 11-8 in a crucial third game before applying the accelerator and rolling through the next three easily.
Feng wrapped up the tie in 35 minutes.
Both Feng and Yu Mengyu will be involved in fourth-round action this morning (Singapore time).
Feng will meet Liu Jia of Austria while Yu will clash with South Korea's Jeon Ji Hee.
Earlier in the day (Singapore time), it was a mixed bag for the national paddlers at the RioCentro Pavilion 3.
It was third time unlucky for Singapore's top male paddler Gao Ning as his third Olympic outing ended at the first hurdle in the second round when the world No. 34 lost 4-3 (7-11, 6-11, 11-3, 3-11, 11-9, 11-9, 8-11) to Great Britain's Paul Drinkhall, the world No. 58, in 50 minutes.
The 33-year-old Singaporean, who was aiming for a first appearance in the final eight at the Olympics, got off to a poor start and lost the opening two games.
The duo traded comprehensive 11-3 wins in the next two games, before Gao Ning rallied to win two more games 11-9 - he was two points away from defeat in Game Five - and take the match to the wire.
Alas, Drinkhall had the last laugh as he clawed back a 6-8 deficit in the rubber game through some impressive returns to take the match and advance to the final 32, matching his achievement at London 2012, in which he was also the scourge of Singapore when he beat Yang Zi, also in the second round.
"He played a fast game today, and even though his standard is okay, he played much better than me today," said a gracious Gao after his defeat.
"During two crucial moments in the match, I wasn't able to see the ball due to the glare from the lights."
The light conditions also affected Yu Mengyu in her women's singles third-round match, but Australia's world No. 128 Lay Jian Fang was no match for the world No. 13, who won 4-0 (11-9, 11-9, 11-6, 12-10).
"The competition hall was a little bright at first but I got used to it," said Yu.
"My opponent had played two matches before this (as ninth seed, Yu had a bye until the third round), but I prepared myself well mentally and physically.
"Tomorrow's opponent will be tougher so I need to prepare for that."